Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with local and regional leaders from Israel’s southern region on Monday, as the Israel Defense Forces expanded airstrikes in the Gaza Strip following Hamas’s deadly surprise attack on Saturday.
“I ask that you stand steadfast because we are going to change the Middle East,” Netanyahu told mayors and council heads, stressing that the Hamas terror group will be defeated “forcefully.”
“What Hamas will experience will be difficult and terrible. We are already in the campaign and we are just getting started,” he added.
“Your leadership has been very strong in these difficult days. The state will leave no stone unturned to help all of you,” said the premier.
Participants in the discussion included Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi, Ofakim Mayor Itzik Danino, Sdot Negev Regional Council chairman Tamir Idean, Eshkol Regional Council chairman Gadi Yarkoni, Hof Ashkelon Regional Council chairman Itamar Revivo and Merhavim Regional Council chairman Shai Hajaj, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
On Monday morning, Israeli forces regained control of all the communities near Gaza, after two days of combat with Hamas terrorists.
“We are in control of the ‘Gaza envelope’ communities,” IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told journalists during a press briefing. He warned, however, that there are still terrorists in the area.
The border fence will be secured by tanks, combat helicopters and drones as the IDF continues to evacuate residents and call up reservists in preparation for an expected ground operation in the Strip.
The terrorist group’s “military and political leadership, all of its assets, are subject to attack and doomed,” added the top military spokesman.
Hamas killed at least 900 Israelis and wounded more than 2,600 on Saturday in a massive offensive that included the launch of thousands of rockets at the Jewish state.
Of the wounded, 22 remain in critical condition, according to the Israeli Health Ministry. In addition, 345 Israelis sustained severe wounds.
On Monday afternoon, the IDF announced it had hit “many” targets in Gaza’s Al Furqan neighborhood, calling it a “nest of terror” used by Hamas to launch attacks against the Jewish state.